With increasingly fewer natural features being left unharmed by the built environment, it is quickly growing clearer that we need to make sure our approach to architecture is one that prioritizes the preservation of nature above all else. One great way in which architects can achieve this involves building structures around the existing landscape. 

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If we can design buildings to work around natural elements rather than destroying them, our approach to architecture can become one which is based upon respect for and harmony with nature. D Caves Hotel by Sanjay Puri Architects is a structure that reflects this beautiful approach.

D Caves Hotel: An Overview 

Located in Hyderabad, D Caves Hotel was designed by Sanjay Puri Architects with the local landscape in mind. The design has been frequently praised for its admirable preservation of the natural features that occupy the site. Boulders with heights of up to fifty feet were kept as the centrepieces of the resort, remaining undisturbed in their positions between the built spaces around them. This series of unique structural elements was designed to appear as being seamlessly blended with the surrounding environment. 

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D Caves Hotel by Sanjay Puri Architects Blending with the Environment - Sheet1
The interaction between the natural and built environments at D Caves Hotel_© Sanjay Puri Architects

The mid-sized resort occupies an impressive area of approximately 45,000 square feet- in other words, just over one acre- and was completed in 2009. To let visitors take advantage of the wonderful site, Sanjay Puri Architects designed the resort as a selection of enclosed and semi-enclosed spatial experiences, gardens, and thoughtfully sculpted volumes. A sense of freedom pervades the design as a result of how the hotel opens up in many directions, welcoming visitors to move between the indoor and outdoor spaces with ease and tranquillity. 

Materials and Techniques

The structures that make up the resort are mainly built from reinforced cement concrete. Often abbreviated to RCC, or RC, this composite material utilizes reinforcement that gives the concrete a higher tensile strength. The colors of the buildings are highly similar to those in the natural features of the site, meaning that the hotel’s design is not visually disruptive. Paired with the simplicity of the materials used, this invites the building’s users to view the nature and the structure as a single body, inviting them to connect with the land around the site. The building also features glass and brick infill walls. 

D Caves Hotel by Sanjay Puri Architects Blending with the Environment - Sheet2
D Caves Hotel_©Sanjay Puri Architects

Uses of the Hotel 

With a total of 27 residential rooms, D Caves Hotel was designed to be a resort that could host anything ranging from casual trips to conferences and events. It is home to a variety of restaurants, conference rooms, villas, bedrooms, lawns, health centers, and more. The dynamic between the relatively harsh edges of the asymmetric buildings and the naturally round shapes of the boulders that dominate the site reflects the coexistence of these spaces: both conference rooms and residential spaces have been masterfully brought together to craft a mixed-use space reminiscent of the varied landscape. 

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D Caves Hotel by Sanjay Puri Architects Blending with the Environment - Sheet3
A staircase leading up to D Caves Hotel_©Sanjay Puri Architects

Energy Efficiency: Responding to the Local Climate

As well as being highly respectful of the structure’s surrounding landscape, the resort has been designed to be energy-efficient, easing its impact on the environment. The northern faces of the structures boast large openings, while the southern sides host smaller openings. 

By designing the building with these features, Sanjay Puri Architects have managed to create an energy-efficient space. Angled cuts in the walls carry value both aesthetically and environmentally: they give the resort a more unique, sculpture-like appearance whilst also only allowing light to enter from certain directions to avoid excessive heat gain. 

D Caves Hotel_©Sanjay Puri Architects

With local temperatures typically ranging from 16 to 39 degrees Celsius, efficiency and temperature control were important qualities to consider during the design process. The resort was designed so that most rooms and dining areas faced the north. This means that indoor spaces are able to stay significantly cooler, which is a huge advantage especially in the warmer months. 

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Through these techniques and more, Sanjay Puri Architects were able to demonstrate through their design of the hotel how we can design buildings that are simultaneously sculpturally intriguing and energy-efficient.

What Can We Learn from This Structure? 

Through careful consideration of how the structure might affect the surrounding environment, Sanjay Puri Architects were able to design a hotel that blends in with and visually enhances the site as much as possible. By looking at how the architectural components are masterfully nestled amongst the existing boulders, we can be reminded that the role of an architect is to design buildings that are kind to the areas in which they are built. 

Whilst it may be tempting to view complex sites as a restriction and a hindrance to the design process, looking at how beautifully the boulders have been preserved in this project can encourage us to see how having respect for the natural features of a site can actually be a liberating creative experience. So, go ahead and design for the preservation of nature rather than against it. It can truly bring about incredible results.

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Author

Katie is an architecture student, writer, and lover of words. She envisions a future in which the positive impacts that buildings can have on humans and our planet are prioritised, and hopes to harness the power of language to amplify the stories being whispered through the world of design.

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